The central nervous system (CNS) is particularly vulnerable to reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of various neurological disorders. The TNF superfamily of cytokines, especially tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), induces caspase-dependent cell death and is also implicated in various neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we investigated the relationship between ROS and TRAIL-induced cell death. Exposure to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) (100 μM) sensitized human astrocytic cells to TRAIL-induced cell death (up to 7-fold induction). To delineate the molecular mechanisms responsible for H2O2-induced sensitization, we examined expression of various genes (Caspase-8, Fas, FasL, DR4, DR5, DcR1, DcR2, TRAIL, TNFRp55) related to TRAIL-induced cell death. Treatment with H2O2 significantly increased DR5 mRNA and protein expression in a time- and dose-dependent manner. H2O2-mediated cell death was blocked upon treatment with DR5:Fc protein, a TRAIL-specific antagonistic protein. These findings collectively suggest that oxidative stress sensitizes human astroglial cells to TRAIL-induced cell death through up-regulation of DR5 expression. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.